When the rumor surfaced yesterday that arch-right-wing money bags and politcal attack ad king Art Pope would be Pat McCrory’s new budget director, there was a lot of denial amongst the folks we talk with over here at Policy Watch. Folks simply couldn’t believe that the new Guv would take such an outrageous and politically risky step.
This would be like a President Romney appointing the Koch brothers as his directors of the EPA and IRS.
But, here we are, 24 hours later, getting our arms around the idea that the man actually did it! Today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File will explore this momentous decision in more detail so be on the lookout, but here is a preliminary take:
In one fell swoop, before he’s even taken office, Pat McCrory has done at least three very ill-advised things:
1. He’s destroyed any notion that he has moderate tendencies that might allow him to govern somewhere closer to the middle. Pope is the leader of one of the nation’s most extreme, right-wing Tea Party groups, Americans for Prosperity. You can’t place such a man in charge of your most important legislation (i.e. the state budget) and pretend to be a moderate.
2. He’s raised enormous ethical issues for himself and his administration. How do state lawmakers work with a man with millions of dollars and a record as long as your arm of mounting destructive attack ad campaigns against politicians with whom he disagrees?
3. He’s called his own authority and role into question. How can McCrory be Pope’s boss when it is Pope who has all the money and power? Is he really going to crack the whip and tell Pope to toe the line that he establishes? Obviously, to ask that question is to answer it. If anyone’s going to be giving orders in the new administration, it’s clearly going to be Pope. The bottom line, if Pope is now the state’s “deputy budget director,” Pat McCrory is now Deputy Governor.